US once again postpones extradition of suspected PKK member

DAILY SABAH
ISTANBUL
Published 18.08.2016 21:45

After Turkey demanded U.S. President Barack Obama take executive action to extradite Fethullah Gülen, the leader of the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ), the United States has once again extended asylum for İbrahim Parlak, a known PKK militant.

Parlak, 54, sought asylum in the United States in the 1990s after a 1988 attack by the PKK terrorist organization along the Turkish-Syrian border that killed two Turkish soldiers. He was accused of the murder of the two soldiers, together with Murat Karayılan, a senior figure in the terrorist organization who is responsible for thousands of murders since the 1980s. After his citizenship application process was put under review in 2001 following Turkey's request for extradition, he faced deportation to his home country. A ruling by the U.S. Board of Immigration issued earlier this week allowed him to extend his stay. The U.S. government could appeal the ruling, but it is unlikely that his deportation will be allowed, as the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has in the past approved further delays of his extradition, and several Congress members have vouched for the Michigan-based Parlak, and in past years have succeeded in securing deferrals.

Turkey and the United States, two close allies, have a mutual extradition agreement in place, but the extradition of individuals like Parlak and Fethullah Gülen remain thorny issues. Parlak was granted deferrals, as he argued he would face torture or execution if he was sent back to Turkey. The U.S. has demanded that Ankara present evidence of Gülen's involvement in terrorism and the attempted coup attempt before they will accept extradition to face charges in Turkey. The PKK and FETÖ are viewed by Ankara as extremely dangerous terrorist organizations. Turkish authorities accuse Gülen of masterminding a coup attempt on July 15, during which hundreds of civilians, police and military officers were killed by a military junta linked to Gülen, in an attempt to seize power. A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said last week that the extradition process for Gülen could take years. The terms of the extradition treaty require extradition if the offences are crimes in both countries, although the requested party can refuse the request if it concludes that the request for extradition is intended to punish a person for political offenses or due to their political opinions. Parlak has long claimed that he was "a political activist" and that during his brief imprisonment in Turkey before he fled to the U.S., he was tortured on charges of PKK membership.

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